Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spoiler alert: I love this.

Spoiler alert: I knew I was going to love this.

There will be no more spoilers in this review.

The third Spider-Man MCU “Home” trilogy film from director John Watts was released today after a little bit of hype… and the hype is 100% earned in one of the best, most emotional, exciting and creative Spider-Man live action films ever produced.

No Way Home picked up immediately after the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home when Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) revealed to the world that Spider-Man’s real name was Peter Parker (Tom Holland). The chaos and insanity that followed was being ramped up by J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) and his podcast.

Finding that the reveal of his secret identity was causing real life problems for the people in his life, May (Marisa Tomei), MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) especially, Peter looked to his friends and allies for possible help, namely Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Peter wondered if Strange could use his magic to help fix the problem. Unfortunately, something went wrong while Strange was casting the spell, bringing trouble from all ends of the multiverse.

For any of those people who complained that the MCU Peter Parker/Spider-Man was just Iron Man Jr. or that he did not understand the character, you can now be quiet because this is the absolutely perfect version of the character, brought to life brilliantly by Tom Holland. I believe that there now can not be any discussion on who is the best live action Spider-Man, because the answer is Tom Holland.

Holland’s Peter Parker has to face the doubts and uncertainties of the character and has to deal with the weight of the responsibility of his choices and the stakes of the story, stakes that were real and palatable. This Spider-Man needed to follow the path of the previous two MCU films in order to become this hero. It was a process and I am glad that the filmmakers and Marvel Studios chose to take this direction.

There were rumors that Marvel Studios wanted the three villains who had been revealed in trailers (and through interviews) to have stayed secret and they wanted to promote the film as Spider-Man vs. Dr. Strange conflict. I do not know how insane I would have gone if I did not know that Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) was going to show up on that bridge. Same with Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe). Would the box office be as potentially crazy for this film if they had not revealed these villains? I don’t know, but I know I would have lost my damn mind if they were a surprise.

The relationship between Peter and MJ is at the center of No Way Home. The chemistry with Holland and Zendaya is absolutely off-the-charts and they make one of the great MCU couples. Every minute with the two of them cemented their status as the It couple. Ned Leeds fit right in with the pair as the proverbial third wheel, but one that was welcome and loved. The trio of kids have built this relationship over the previous two films and it really pays off here.

As epic as it is to see Alfred Molina as Doc Ock again, and how much of an improvement this version of Jamie Foxx’s Electro is, Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn steals the show. Dafoe is utterly terrifying and brings a depth to the character that we may not have had in the Sam Raimi films.

The other two villains we see in the trailer was Sandman and Lizard and there is less of these two than Ock, Goblin and Electro, but that is understandable. Both Sandman and Lizard had their individual moments in the film and are welcome.

This is easily the darkest of the Spider-Man films, but it still has the undeniably funny humor involved as well. The first act had a lot of awkwardness and that felt right because it was shadowing how Peter was feeling during the reveal of his secret identity.

I love how people are using the terms “nostalgia” and “fan service” as bad things. This film certainly has its share of both, but it does it expertly and it is usually in service of the story. I would say that Spider-Man: No Way Home is the perfect amount of both.

Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding as Dr. Strange yet again. He has been presented in the most effective manner outside of his own solo film. His appearance in Avengers: Infinity War and in this Spider-Man movie show Strange as such an effective character. I liked the movie Doctor Strange, but he has flourished in his supporting roles over the last few years.

Two post credit scenes , so stay through to the end. The first scene was at both times funny and ominous. The second one was unexpected and set up what was coming. Both were amazing.

I have seen many people claim that this was a love letter to the character of Spider-Man and I can absolutely get on board with that idea. This is probably the least surprising score of the entire year for me, but Spider-Man: No way Home hit a home run, nailing every aspect that needed to be in a Spider-Man movie.

To no one’s surprise…

5 stars

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